Benioff Acknowledges Uptime Woes

The CEO explains the recent outages of the company's on-demand CRM software. Inc. CEO Marc Benioff last week acknowledged the companys recent outages in an interview and said that "occasionally youre going to have some type of quirky architecture."

The remarks, made here at Salesforce.coms Winter 06 launch event, addressed the companys two confirmed outages, one on Dec. 20 that lasted nearly 6 hours and one minor overnight outage on Jan. 6 that affected its Europe, Middle East and African markets.

As reported by eWEEK, however, some customers say there have been more slowdowns and outages of Salesforce.coms on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) software over the past year than the company has let on.

Those customers, for the most part, have chalked up the issues to growing pains for the exponentially expanding company. But Benioff said he doesnt believe thats the issue.

"Our job is to mitigate the risk on the data centers," said Benioff. "In our new data centers, everything is redundant. We lose one network because the ISP goes down, we have multiple networks; we lose one router, we have multiple routers; we lose one switch, we have multiple switches. ... So that level of redundancy is very, very strong. But were a software application. ... Sometimes we can hit a problem like we did on Dec. 20, and the system goes down."

/zimages/4/28571.gifJohn Pallatto says needs to focus on fundamentals. Click here to read his column.

Benioff said the company does everything it can not to get to a situation where it experiences hours-long outages.

"We dont want to get to that point," Benioff said. "But, unfortunately because were running on a software-based system, if our code is not tested, or, in this case, the vendor gives us a piece of code that were using and theres a problem with it," theres an issue with

The Dec. 20 outage was, he said, an anomaly—one the company doesnt hope to see again. "I had never seen anything like it. I have worked in databases for 20 years. And the stuff that happened is not possible. It cannot happen," said Benioff.

At the end of the day, Benioff does not see the recent outages as ongoing issues. "In the seven-year history of the company, we have [had] really very good reliability and availability," said Benioff. "And our job is to keep it that way. We want to get to 100 percent—everybody does. But thats the whole key. Nobody does. Its not going to happen. Its computers."

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